24 May 2004
A Budget for the Battlers
''This week’s Budget promises to be a Budget for the battlers,'' Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said today.
The CTU has for several years been calling for Government assistance for low-income families – and the Government has signalled that this year’s Budget will contain relief for these families.
“Unemployment is down to record lows but there are many people who are poor even though they have a job,” Ross Wilson said.
The Budget would define the fundamental difference between this centre-left Government and the alternative offered by National and ACT, he said.
“The National-ACT alternative is a return to the 1990s with tax cuts to favour the better off. Only 29 cents in every dollar of tax cuts in 1996 and 1998 went to low and middle income families,” Ross Wilson said.
“Between 1984 and 1998 the top 10 per cent of households increased their income by 43 per cent, and the bottom half of all households saw their income decrease by 14 per cent.”
The CTU looked forward to this Budget making an investment in people, albeit with the expectation of some differences over timing and targeting of the support, Ross Wilson said.
It should also be noted that Government alone can’t address the deficits from the 1990s, he said.
“Employers also need to address the problems of low pay and the Employment Relations Act amendments will help low-paid workers get some traction in collective bargaining.”